Melissa McCarthy is back on the big screen this weekend, but her latest comedy Life of the Party unfortunately fails to live up to the bar of her previous movies. While the premise certainly had the potential to be absolutely hilarious, all of the movie’s jokes failed to include one thing: a punchline.
While the script certainly had a lot of set-up for great jokes that would usually keep audiences roaring with laughter, the punchlines seemed to be missing from almost all of them. Whether this was at the actual fault of the writers, or the performances from the cast, the problem was certainly prevalent. Instead of being an actually fun comedy to watch, Life of the Party instead felt awkward, leaving the audience cringing rather than laughing.
There were moments that formulatically should have been absolutely hilarious, yet for whatever reason, they just did not work. One scene in particular that should have been laugh out loud funny occurred about halfway through the movie. Melissa McCarthy’s character did the “walk of shame” out of a fraternity room, and her character’s daughter did a “walk of shame” out of another fraternity room, leading them to practically run into each other trying to sneak out of the fraternity unspotted. Myself and everyone else in the theater prepared for an absolutely hilarious moment, with both characters being absolutely shocked at the other one walking out of the room. Instead, it was non-comedically awkward, leading to a painfully uncomfortable conversation of Melissa McCarthy’s overnight stay, with almost no actual jokes or punchlines to be seen. Scenes like this are supposed to be humorously awkward, making people laugh as they go, but instead, it was arguably the most awkward moment of the entire movie.
While some shows and movies can make this awkward kind of comedy without the presence of punchlines work, Life of the Party did not. Shows like The Office thrive off of this style of comedy, but unfortunately for Life of the Party, there were no John Krasinskis or B.J. Novaks to look at the camera to add an actual element of humor to the mix. Instead, there was just us, the audience, sitting through extremely awkward conversations about an almost 50 year old woman spending the night with a guy in his early 20s. There were no cameras for us to comedically look at and no way to add any humor to the mix, leading to the entire theater having an extremely uncomfortable time.
It wasn’t just the failed comedy that made Life of the Party into such a poor experience. The plot itself was difficult to follow. There were a number of moments in this movie that looked like they were about to break it into the third act, putting Melissa McCarthy at the lowest point yet, but then did not, making us wonder what the point of these scenes were in the first place. By the time this act-breaking moment did come, it felt forced and nonsensical, with McCarthy’s ex’s new wife “cutting off” McCarthy financially. This, for whatever reason, meant that McCarthy’s ex was paying for her to go to college all along, which didn’t make sense to begin with.
To make things worse, by the time things were about to wrap up, all of the problems were solved by characters who barely showed up in the movie and had little-to-no development. Not only this, but the plot received two separate fixes, both of whom could have fixed the conflict singlehandedly. This wasn’t just obnoxiously convenient, but it also made us wonder what the point was for either of the fixes.
All in all, Life of the Party was just an awkward movie experience that lasted 20 minutes too long. I have always said that even a bad comedy can still be a fun experience, but Life of the Party proved me wrong. The lack of punchlines and confusing plot made Warner Bros. Pictures‘ latest movie into a truly hard-to-watch experience. Even the few jokes that did successfully land (most of them being Melissa McCarthy’s iconic falling down jokes) couldn’t even save the movie, resulting in me having to give Life of the Party a low score of 2/10.